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The Volkswagen New Beetle TDI and its close cousin the Volkswagen Golf TDI each achieve among the highest mpg figures of non-hybrid vehicles. Both TDI Beetle and Golf are diesel cars that achieve 42/49 city/hwy mpg in their 5 speed versions, and 34/44 city/hwy mpg in the automatic transmission versions.
Many people mistakenly take high mpg to mean that Volkswagen TDI cars are very "green" cars. In terms of emissions, the Environmental Protection Agency rates the Volkswagen TDI cars as among the dirtiest cars sold today. As you can see below, smog-forming emissions from the TDI Beetle are about 5 times that of the 5 speed Insight, and about 50 times that of the CVT Insight. In terms of greenhouse gas emissions, the TDI Beetle & TDI Golf each emit 50% more than the Insight.
In terms of fuel efficiency, comparing mpg figures of gasoline powered vehicles with diesel powered vehicles is like comparing apples and oranges. All things being equal, a diesel powered vehicle will travel further on the same volume of fuel, as diesel oil provides more energy per volume than gasoline. As such, the Beetle & Golf's energy efficiency is even worse compared to the Insight than the figures would suggest.
[Editor's note: I still love the body shape & styling of the New Beetle!]